In Which I Blame My PE Teacher For Ruining Exercise For Me FOREVER

I have this thing now, where if I am wearing anything remotely sport-centric -- like a pair of trainers -- or I am in a gym, I am instantly 14 again. I am being shouted at for being wheezy and slow. I am a failure.
Publish date:
October 25, 2012
gym, Sneakers, pe

I am unfit. I am a disgrace. I am the girl who joined the gym in January, paid upfront for 3 months and then went twice.

I recently decided to become a runner. I spent a full week researching the most pimping running shoes and spending £50 on them. I wore them once. I ran down the road like Phoebe from "Friends," realized I was totally shit and then sat on a step and cried. The annoying thing is that they are really fucking cool trainers but I feel like a total dick when I wear them -- because I had it ingrained in me from around age 12 that I was totally awful at anything sport-related and probably shouldn’t bother.

At school, we had the most horrendous monster of a Physical Education teacher. My school had a particularly bad rep, what with buildings ALLEGEDLY being burnt down by pupils during the summer holidays and our former drama teacher being murdered by our English teacher’s boyfriend, in what he charmingly referred to as a "sex game gone wrong" that was, in fact, murder.

He kept her body in a storage unit before setting fire to it in a field. So, yeah, our school wasn’t really that well-respected.

I had quite a few really great teachers, teachers who inspired me and made me feel like I had talent and could achieve something. I still look back and wonder what they are up to now and would like to get in touch to just say, "Hey -– you really made a difference. Thank you." But they’d probably think I was a weird stalker or something, so I’ll probably swerve that.

On the other hand -– there was Miss Johns. She was feared by all the female students. The legend goes that she started at the school in the 70s, fresh from University, full of big ideas and hopes and dreams. The first year, the students saw fresh meat and went to town on her, and when she returned after the summer she had turned fully monstrous. Her face was constantly scrunched up into a scowl, red from screaming, and her fists were always clenched. She was really fucking angry, all the time. She was the kind of woman who fully loved making pupils cry. I reckon she had a diary somwhere in which she’d mark down how many full-scale breakdowns she’d managed to cause that day –- my name would have been in there on the reg.

The thing about PE at school was that if you were good at it, you were generally loved by the teachers and treated like a demi-god. You’d more likely than not be pretty fit, toned and popular. You’d get to hold the trophy at Sports Day and have your photo taken for the paper where they’d then spell your name wrong, but whatever.

If you were abominable at it, like me, those hour-long sessions twice weekly were something to dread and invent ingrown toenails for. I swear, in the final year of school I think I only attended about 20% of the classes; the rest of the time I was "suffering from cramps" or I had a "bad foot" (how deliciously vague!).

The changing rooms alone were reason enough not to want to attend. They stank of feet and body spray. There were old showers in the corner that no one would use because being naked in front of each other would have made us die on the spot.

Getting changed in front of one another was bad enough, with the silent judging from your pubescent counterparts. But what would happen next was WORSE. We were split into two groups –- "higher" and "foundation." The Higher group was made up of all the girls who could actually DO sport, and who turned up with the full kit and were thin (it’s true!).

They would get to prance off with Miss Morris, the nice one. She was only a bit shouty and was less menacing. That would leave us, the Foundation group, quaking in our gym shoes, with Miss Johns -- rubbing her hands together with glee at the emotional torment she was about to inflict. Us Foundationers -– the fatties (I weighed 200 pounds at 14), the asthmatics, the girl with the limp, we would collectively pray to whatever there was up there that the hour would go quickly.

Sometimes we’d do Cross Country, which was essentially us running laps around the field while she screamed at us that we were slow and awful. Sometimes it was tennis, and my friend and I would purposely hit the tennis balls over the fence so we could escape for a sweet 3 minutes or so. Sometimes it would be gymnastics, which were particularly horrendous due to my complete lack of any kind of flexibility. My friend Mikaela would hide behind me while she got shouted at for being "A SHEEP!!!!!" because she was too scared to try out anything new. Then the hour would be over, and we would traipse back to the changing rooms broken and muddied, already thinking of ways to get out of the next session. It was horrible.

And so I have this thing now, where if I am wearing anything remotely sport-centric -- like a pair of trainers -- or I am in a gym, I am instantly 14 again. I am being shouted at for being wheezy and slow. I am a failure.

How do I shake this off? I want to get fit! I was considering Pilates but then Chris reminded me that when we were in Jersey a couple of weekends ago, I did THREE sit-ups on this outside gym thing and I ached for four days. True story. I genuinely hurt every time I laughed. From THREE poxy sit-ups.

I have these amazing running shoes that I need to use, but I can’t get past this mental block. How do I get over this? HELP ME.

P.S Miss Johns, if you are reading this, the way you used to pronounce "calculator" as "conkulator" was really fucking irritating.

Natalie is over on Twitter posting links from the Daily Mail about Courtney Stodden -– go say hi! @Natalie_KateM